Re-purposing Musical Instruments As Synthesizer Controllers

October 1, 2010
Time: 11:00am-12:00pm
Interschool Lab, 7th floor Schapiro CEPSR
Hosted by: Dan Ellis <>
Speaker: Miller S. Puckette (University of California, San Diego)


In order to use a computer as a musical instrument, one can either design a new interface (and then have to learn to play it) or fall back on one or more existing instruments and somehow hijack the performer's actions for use controlling the new instrument. I've been working for several years on the second of the two approaches, in particular trying to use the instrumental sound output as a control source for an electronic instrument. This talk is a progress report on what I've been able to do so far using a guitar and a small percussion instrument to control a small but growing collection of synthesis algorithms.

Speaker Biography

Miller Puckette obtained a B.S. in Mathematics from MIT (1980) and Ph.D. in Mathematics from Harvard (1986). He was a member of MIT's Media Lab from its inception until 1987, and then a researcher at IRCAM (l'Institut de Recherche et de Coordination Musique/Acoustique, founded by composer and conductor Pierre Boulez). There he wrote the Max program for MacIntosh computers, which was first distributed commercially by Opcode Systems in 1990 and is now available from . In 1989 Puckette joined IRCAM's "musical workstation" team and wrote an extended version of Max, called Max/FTS, for the Ircam Signal Processing Workstation. Puckette joined the Music department of the University of California, San Diego in 1994, and is now Associate Director of the Center for Research in Computing and the Arts (CRCA). He is currently working on a free, open source real-time software system for live musical and multimedia performances called Pure Data ("Pd"), in collaboration with many other artists/researchers/programmers worldwide. In 1997 Puckette joined the Global Visual Music project. Since 2004 he has performed with the Convolution Brothers.

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